Country Living with Francis Farragher
It’s a bit late in life for some of us to be falling in love again but with each passing year my heart is always won over by the arrival of February, a month of the year that’s vastly under-rated, a bit like custard cream biscuits. My abhorrence of January has been well documented but since schooldays, when we were always taught that Spring began on the first day of February, or St. Brigid’s Day, the arrival of this month has always been something of a release valve from the melancholia of Winter.
Maybe, a bit naively, we always believed that the rooks looked at the calendar, saw February the 1st on the new page, and said: “Come on lads, time to start gathering the sticks, and making the house for the next family.”
Whether February 1 is the first day of Spring or not in our Northern Hemisphere is always one of those great unsolvable debates. Many diehards are not for turning in their belief that St. Brigid’s Day does indeed mark the first day of Spring, but it’s not a view universally shared.
Met Éireann and the meteorologists will always stick with the ‘temperature model’ of the three months of Spring being March, April and May while my own tin-pot theory about the seasons is that with the mid-point of Winter, being December 21, the season of darkness should begin roughly six weeks before that and end six weeks after.
It was only last week while doing a bit of ‘digging’ about moon phases and their little idiosyncrasies that I stumbled upon the astronomical seasons, with the three months of Spring starting with the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21); Summer beginning with the Spring Equinox (March 21); Autumn kicking off with the Summer Solstice (June 21) and Winter arriving with the Autumn Equinox (Sept. 21).
Anyway, I’ll go with my heart on this one, and stay loyal to the February notion of heralding in the Spring with our sunrises at last creeping back to pre-8am times by the middle of the month while a week or so later the sunset – at last – touches 6pm. Good riddance at last to those Winter days when the evening gloom was a most unwelcome visitor before 4pm.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.